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Children's Social Services - Case Studies
07-01-2011, 07:41 PM
Post: #1
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Firstly in Blackpool this is something that we haven't done at our Children's Services O&S Committee and I suspect it may be an area of work, as you have referred to which may cause conflicting views.

I see a few issues particularly with studying particular cases:
  • firstly is the committees role not to monitor the service provided by the authority overall via reports from the cabinet member / appropriate officers and via external reports to ensure its appropriate for the needs of the children? (studying case studies of particular children would appear to be more for the committees benefit / interes rather than for the children who are accessing the service than?)
  • diluting them as you say removes effectiveness
  • discussing particular cases in the public domain seems in my opinion unecessary? (these children are often very high needs cases, in very specific circumstances and could be known within their local areas / by local people - even anonymising cases may not guarantee anonymity for the child)
  • there would be option to move into private session but that may create unnecessary interest from the press and public

If the Committee has cause for concern about the service, then a specific focused review, outside the public committee may be the most senstive, appropriate option?

Just a few thoughts. Happy to be convinced of the validity of this work but I would always recommend a committee airs on the side of caution when considering any areas where safeguarding is involved and requests information sensitively and appropriately within their remit.
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10-01-2011, 04:53 PM
Post: #2
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Thanks for responding.

Some of this is for the Committee's benefit in so much as developing 'expertise' in this service area and humanising things. I would expect this to contribute to better quality scrutiny and ultimately better services.

Members of the Scrutiny Board feel that this activity would help improve their understanding of Child & Family Services and the care system. It is not to 'scrutinise' individual cases. By getting progress reports on a few cases may demonstrate the complexities / difficulties involved but it may reveal problems with the service - which of course could be the subject of specific review work.

This work would be just one element of a wide ranging work programme.

The Board has already been praised by external inspectors and the Welsh Assembly Government for its work over the last 2 years which has led to improvement in Child & Family Services and removal of 'serious concerns'. This idea I think is shows our Board Members gaining confidence and wanting to go deeper - pushing the boundaries.

It may be a challenge to ensure the anonymity but there are ways that this could be achieved. Good scrutiny will be challenging. The Board has already demonstrated the ability to deal with this subject area sensitively so we don't have any issues there.

Anyone else care to comment?
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12-01-2011, 03:02 PM
Post: #3
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Hi Brij

Our Young People's Services Scrutiny Forum have done something a bit similar to this - back in October they received a report updating them on the work of the Brighter Futures Panel, which monitors out of county placements. The report was presented to scrutiny to comply with the duty to report the activity of this panel to Members, and included profiles of all the children that had been discussed by the Panel in the last year, identifying them by initials only - to further preserve anonymity the report was discussed in camera, as it would have been possible to identify individual children from the information provided. The report also gave a general update on Corporate Parenting, which also referred to individual, anonymised cases briefly in order to illustrate 'good news' stories about academic achievements.

The Forum found the report very enlightening, and I agree that this level of detail does help to "humanise" the scrutiny of this area. Members were keen to receive further updates / case studies from the Brighter Futures Panel and we will be putting another report to them in the next couple of months. Clearly we haven't gone in to the level of detail as suggested by the model used in Torfaen, as the work we've done has focussed purely on out of county placements, but I think it's an interesting idea and can only be of benefit as long as it's done sensitively.

Obviously the report I refer to above is confidential so I can't forward a copy to you, but I could put you in contact with our Head of Children's Services, who wrote the report and asked for it to be sent to scrutiny, if that would help.

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13-01-2011, 12:56 PM
Post: #4
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Hi Brij,

I think this is a really interesting idea, definitely means findings will have a larger impact if you focus in on a few cases like this. However, ethical side of things and access etc is problematic. A thought occurred to me (and I am probably quite biased in this case because I happen to be doing a piece of research on collaborative work between scrutiny committees and universities!) but have you considered consulting a university researcher on this matter? I know there are individuals that specialise specificallly on the subject of children in care. For example, David Berridge, Bristol University (see link below)


He might have some interesting insight/advice to help you with this. If you are interested in this idea feel free to get in touch with me to talk further about it:

0207 187 7364.

I know David and I wouldn't mind getting in touch with him on your behalf if you are interested.


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13-01-2011, 02:56 PM
Post: #5
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Brij - our scrutiny members visited a children's home and were also addressed by a LAC who had been right through the system as part of their scrutiny of the Council's Corporate parenting role.
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25-01-2011, 03:37 PM
Post: #6
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Hi Brij,

At my previous authority we used some children's services case studies as part of a training programme for scrutiny panel members. This not only helped to improve their understanding of children's services, but also helped them to frame the questions that they wanted to ask Officers during scrutiny panel meetings.

Let me know if you want more details.

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05-02-2011, 06:07 PM
Post: #7
RE: Children's Social Services - Case Studies
Hi Rebecca - this sounds a useful tool for looking at services for young people and providing training for members. Can you provide me with some further info please?
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